by Martha Guadalupe Romero, from an opinion column in El Nuevo Diario (Managua, Nicaragua), March 4, 2010.
Military "solutions" are not solutions for the underlying problems that face neither Mexico, nor--for that matter--its northern neighbor the U.S., today. This opinion piece from Central America laments the failure that is increasingly obvious as the death toll mounts and the violence rages in the failed "drug war." ~Billie Greenwood
One of the most fascinating countries of the planet, not only for its pre-Hispanic and colonial history, but for its geographic beauty, architecture, food, music and especially the warmth and happiness of its people, seems to be on the edge of collapse due to the status of insecurity and violence in which its residents live.
For many years now, but never as in recent ones, the drug cartels have been forcing the country into a generalized climate of violence. Corrupt officials, lack of timely attention and wrong measures are some of the reasons which have brought the country to this point. The use of the army in civilian security activities, and the granting of status to the military as the main role players in this battle, by means of the approval of a national security law, is probably the Mexican government's most questionable measure. The mayor of Ciudad Juarez admitted two large errors: underestimating narcotics traffickers' capabilities and not cleansing the police forces' corruption in a timely manner.
On the borders to the south of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras face similar events everyday: institutional corruption, the advance of narcotraffic and inattention to the needs of the young, who today make up the majority of the population in Latin America. El Salvador and Honduras, countries highly impacted by the gangs, have applied harsh policies that have not only been ineffective but have added to the violence. Although the problems mentioned are not as large in Nicaragua, we have to take preventive measures to enable our youth to survive the horror of narcotraffic.
It is quite evident that the solutions to these problems lie elsewhere, such as fostering education, generating decent employment and investing massively in opportunities for youth, which sees itself forced to take wrong pathways or to escape the hell of its neighborhoods, turned into drug paradises or battlefields, where the use of every type of weapon has replaced books, work and civic values.
Mexico must win the battle of Juarez with different weapons than those used by the government. Education, employment and opportunities are more efficient and farther reaching. We must listen to the shout from Juarez.
Source: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FORMER BORDER PATROL OFFICERS
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